Devil5052 wrote:I have never owned anything but hand fired stoves & wondered about maybe getting a stoker if & when I ever replace my Harman TLC-2000. The idea that a stoker:
1.Costs $$$ to run
2.Can't run during a power failure .
3.Makes continual noise.
4. Is a complcated machine much more prone to require maintenece.
......Is enough to deter me from ever considering one if the only benefit is longer burn times. Since I am using a blower fan (this year after taking this forum's advice) I am able to burn lower temp fires & get more heat & only shake the stove down once a day. Am I missing a benefit from a stoker that isn't apparent to me?
I went around this question as well...for the last 2 years. I decided on the stoker because:
It's simple to operate. Dump coal in, heat comes out.
Can you control a hand-fired unit with a thermostat? I honestly don't know the answer. Mine works like a regular furnace. Set it and forget it.
My wife can be taught to fill it and empty it without her feeling uncomfortable with shaking the fire out on a hand fired.
They're actually incredibly simplistic. It's a big metal box with 2 or 3 electric motors that either run a fan or rotate the shaft...very slowly. Other than the grate there isn't much there I can't fix or fabricate myself.
Noise..well..ya...but if you ever get the chance, stop by my home and listen to mine. It's already making about 1/2 the noise it did 2 days ago and within a week or so I'll have that cut by half again. I'll probably spend all of $50 to do it.
Power outages...well...yes, we do get a few. I have 2 deep cycle batteries and an inverter that will buy me up to 2 days run time. We've never lost power for more than 12 hours in the 12 years I've lived in this house. That being said, this is the perfect reason for me to buy that little Honda inverter generator I've been eyeing for 2 years....and yes, my wife knows how I work...accessories are part of the fun.
So, in the end, I think stokers are about convenience. The few hand-fired units I looked at were as much or more than my LL hearth and honestly, I don't know anyone burning a hand-fired unit to ask how much is involved, but I've read a lot on here that makes me think there is a learning curve to them. Not that it's a bad thing, but I prefer the convenience a stoker buys me. Oh...and if I'm going to lose power for a long time, I can have that thing out of my fireplace and build a nice wood fire in about 30 minutes. Advantage: hearth model stoker.
Disclaimer is that I'm a complete n00b at coal related heat so everything I posted here could be completely and utterly wrong....or not!